Cambridge, UK -- 19 May, 2003 -- A weekend to forget is how Matthew Mortlock summarised Round 2 of the EuroBOSS Championship at Brands Hatch, as his F1-Sales.com Footwork Arrows suffered repeated problems with O-ring seals on it's clutch system ...
Cambridge, UK -- 19 May, 2003 -- A weekend to forget is how Matthew Mortlock summarised Round 2 of the EuroBOSS Championship at Brands Hatch, as his F1-Sales.com Footwork Arrows suffered repeated problems with O-ring seals on it's clutch system throughout Saturday and Sunday. Hard work by the team enabled Mortlock to take the grid, but the car failed again during the race warm-up lap forcing him to be a spectator from the pits and unable to try to regain the outright lap record he held until a few weeks ago.
In the race itself Mortlock's main competition in the series, Dutchman Klaas Zwart and South African Earl Goddard, took each other off when dicing spectacularly for the race lead - leaving Mortlock to rue his mechanical failures even more. In the end, Spaniard Nick Dalli won the race in his Ascari Judd ahead of Max Wakefield in his 1997 ex-Jean Alesi Benetton.
"Prior to the weekend, our hopes were high," commented Mortlock. "But it was one of those frustrating weekends you get in motor racing from time-to-time. Every time we thought we'd fixed the problem in the garage, it would re-appear after a couple of laps on the track."
The problem first appeared after a couple of laps in Saturday morning's practice session when Mortlock's raised hand signalled a problem. As soon as he was back in the garage the team started stripping the car down to find the failure but it looked unlikely that Mortlock would make the qualifying session taking place just an hour and a half later. The team did manage to track the problem down to a split O-ring in the clutch cylinder, replace it, and put the car back together. But the qualifying session ended just as the team was lowering the Arrows off of its stands to leave the garage -- meaning Mortlock would be at the back of the grid for the race.
On the Sunday morning warm-up session, Mortlock managed to complete eight laps before the clutch problem re-appeared. Even so, he was still third fastest and was pleased with the car's handling. "The car felt good," commented Mortlock, "and I felt that, although starting from the back of the grid, I could have a good race -- if the clutch pressure didn't fail."
Once again, the team removed the gearbox and fixed the clutch seals. This time, with four hours to work on the car before the race, the team were confident that they had found and corrected the problem. However, the green flag warm-up lap was not even over before the car failed again -- and Mortlock toured into the pitlane.
"Mike Allen, the Chief Mechanic, did a great job working tirelessly throughout the weekend to keep getting the car back onto the circuit," added Mortlock. "Before the next race, we'll take the car completely apart, isolate the root of the problem, and get it fixed. It's still early in the Championship and, hopefully, we can forget all about this weekend by the end of the season."
Next, Mortlock and his EuroBOSS colleagues head out to Europe for rounds in Czech Republic, Belgium and Holland.